After two weeks Farah decided that keeping Nickolai in their bedroom was unfair to Michael, whose habit of getting up with her when the baby cried was interfering with his much needed rest after his strenuous daily schedule. When Farah pointed this out to him, he grinned fatuously and told her he didn't want to miss out on anything. Nevertheless, Farah had Nicky moved to a room adjoining their bedroom, where his crying was less likely to wake Michael. Therese's room adjoined Nicky's on the other side.
Nicky was a healthy baby, but healthy newborns have to be fed and changed in the night, and eventually even Farah, who seldom tired, began to feel the strain. Noticing this, Therese suggested that she look after him while Farah took a daily nap. This offer was gratefully received by Farah, who was ready to concede that Alexandra had been right after all in hiring Therese. By the time Farah thought the bonding between her and her child was strong enough, she felt safe in turning him over to Therese's care. A younger woman, Rachelle, was hired to assist her, and Farah returned to her civic duties.
Nicky was bright, good natured child and seldom cried, and his grandmother adored him. Alexandra thought he looked Russian, with his blond hair like his father's, although his eyes were brown like his mother's. This softening of Alexandra's disposition eventually led her to consent to including Cousin Andre in their public appearances, allowing Farah to spend more time at home.
"How is Andre doing?" Farah asked Michael one day after he had had a particularly tiring schedule.
"He's really a big asset. The ladies love him, and he's bright enough to know how to please Mother. He used to be so hostile, but now that he's included he's friendly and helpful."
"I hope it doesn't turn out to be a mistake, including him."
"Hey, it was you who suggested it."
"I know, and it was because I have an uneasy feeling about him, I don't know why."
When Nicky had his first birthday in August, Farah was three months pregnant. In February she gave birth to a girl, whom they named Megan. There was much rejoicing in Zhad, because now there was another child to carry on the royal line.
As Megan grew, her resemblance to her mother became apparent, and Michael became her willing slave. When she realized this, she was not above trading on her father's doting affection and was a rather spoiled little girl. But she was loving and good-natured, and eventually the restrictions imposed by royalty kept her in line.
They were a close-knit family, and while the children were small they tried each year to vacation in California at what they always referred to as "Jason's house." Since Zhad was a small, peaceful country which almost never made headlines, they were usually able to slip in with no fanfare and enjoy the freedom.
As Therese had an aversion to flying, it was Rachelle who accompanied them on these visits. Farah, who liked to cook, was in her element in the kitchen, and everyone was relaxed and carefree.
Ned, the caretaker, and his wife were always given the time off while they were there, and a hefty yearly bonus which enabled them to take a trip themselves if they were so inclined.
Alexandra never accompanied them. She felt it her duty to stay close to Maria while the others were away, but she sometimes visited Aunt Margaret in Boston. During Margaret's many trips to Zhad they had become fast friends.
As Nicky and Megan grew into their teens, they liked to vacation where there was more "action," as they said, and the trips to California grew less frequent.
At seventeen Nicky was as tall as his father, slender and muscular, with good features. The contrast between his blonde hair and his dark eyes was striking, and the attention he got from girls was giving him a self-confidence he had not always had.
At fifteen, Megan was already a beauty, poised and confident, but sensible enough to know that much of the attention she received could be attributed to the glamour surrounding a princess, even a princess of a small country like Zhad. Her resemblance to her mother was uncanny, a circumstance that was to play an important part in the events of the future.